Glyn Hodges has backed his AFC Wimbledon side to pull clear of relegation trouble after a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Crewe ended a dismal run of defeats.
Joe Pigott’s second-minute header set the Dons on the right path at Gresty Road and although Oli Finney levelled for Crewe, the point took the visitors out of the bottom four and ended a run of five consecutive defeats.
Hodges was delighted with the efforts of his players, and said: “The key was to work hard and put our stamp on the game by playing to our strengths. Crewe are an in-form side in the top half of the table, but we shouldn’t have lost to them at home and we could have won the game today.
“With the run we’ve been on it was a case of taking that point and getting moved up the table. We’ll take confidence from it. The run was tough to take, but we’ve responded. Everyone is doom and gloom around here and quite rightly as the results haven’t been good enough.
“But they’re a game bunch and they are the same group that got us up the league earlier in the season.
“Cheye Alexander hit some great crosses, and while we didn’t get into those areas in the second half, we hit them a lot on the break and were probably just one pass away from getting that second goal.”
Crewe handed a second debut to Billy Jones, signed on loan from Rotherham to bolster a back four hit by injuries and the departure of Perry Ng to Cardiff.
Goalkeeper Dave Richards’ uncertain first-half showing provided the Dons with hope. The Welshman was flapping at Alexander’s cross and Pigott rose high to head home.
Wimbledon defended with determination and carried a threat through Pigott particularly, whose second-half set-piece header was kept out brilliantly by Richards.
Wing-back Alexander also drove an effort against the crossbar.
But veteran Jones was involved in Finney’s equaliser, with the full-back’s cross drifting back off the far post and falling for the midfielder to lash in.
The Railwaymen’s unbeaten run now stretches to 10 games, but boss David Artell hit out at his players’ lack of application.
“It was a tough watch and a game low on quality,” Artell said. “For us that was not good enough and we’ve got to set out our stall to be better than that.
“We didn’t look after the ball well enough and while we didn’t deserve to lose we weren’t good enough to win. We knew AFC Wimbledon are a decent team, even if their results have not reflected their quality.
“They’re not feeling sorry for themselves and they’re playing for their manager.
“In four of the last 10 games we’ve conceded early in the half and that’s something we’ve got to stop. It’s nothing to do with football, it’s to do with application.”